Just for giggles
By zackaa05
Hehehe, ya know I was surprised to see this thread at first :rofl: but to be honest, I'm all for remo doing what they are doing. Sure their instruments aren't made of wood and goat, but I don't feel that their presence in the U.S. market has to necessarily dilute or degrade the rich music culture from which their modern instruments have sprung.

In fact, I had the opportunity recently to play their Paulo Mattioli higher end drum with a nuskyn head, along with several quality mali shells with nuskyn heads, and while there was definitely some twanginess, going on, they really do make a good alternative for those unable to re-skin drums themselves, or wanting weather or animal rights not to be an issue... I'll even go as far to say I was impressed on the whole! :D Their signature key tuned djembe with the fiberskin is whole nother deal though, those are the twangies, ringy'est things I have ever heard, even tuned well like in this vid:

Also, from all the videos and reviews I have seen about their conga heads, bongo heads, and doumbeks, they are able to get really quality sounds that seem to be preferable in a lot of circles of gigging congeros. I've even been toying with the idea of purchasing one of their 12" ashikos, and putting one of the nuskyn conga heads on it to make a synthetic bugarabu/ashiko/conga hybrid for easy travel...

Anyway, I know this was just a joke thread, but I thought I'd share some thoughts! Totally open to discussion as I'm sure their are some differing opinions out there :mrgreen:

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By e2c
No offense, zack, but that drum Leon Mobley is playing sounds pretty bad to me - you can really hear the plastic head and "acousticon" (fake wood) shell.

I think one of the reasons there are these rave testimonies from some artists is simple - they're endorsers. (Leon's had his own line of Remo "djembes" for quite a few years now.)

I think Remo is very good at making drum heads. But hand percussion - not so much.

Their dumbeks are just.... well, that's one of my main instruments, but I play Egyptian and Iraqi style clay drums with fishskin heads. I guess the Remo drums are good in a pinch (like in super-humid weather), but they don't even come close to the richness of sound that you can get from drums made of "real" materials.
By zackaa05
Hey e2c, I think you might've misunderstood me on a few points. I was trying to say that the key tuned djembes (including the leon mobleys) sound hoorrrible, even when tuned properly -- I was posting that vid as an example that, even tuned well, in the hands of a solid player, those drums sound aaweeefffulll! **The drums that I was saying I favored after playing were the paulo matiolli drums with the nuskyn, which are MUCH closer to a traditional sound spectrum:

Now the conga vid on the other hand -- I'm very impressed by the sounds produced by those heads. I hear you that the remos will never match the clay and fishskin, have you had the opportunity to play any of their higher end doumbeks? I own a cheap Moroccan doumbek, and an aluminum darbukah, but would only call myself a hobbyist with them at best, djembe has become my real hand drumming passion...

I find this player and the commentary super annoying, but here are some vids for those who aren't familiar with the remos...


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By the kid
those guys telling us how good remo is are being paid by remo. I think we can promote True African drumming here instead of getting side tracked with the people who are pretending. What ya think? Check out renki boys blog if you can't find what your looking for on youtube www.djemberenki.com, biggest list of vids around.
By zackaa05
Personally I think there is room for both, and I agree that you can tell when someone is just being paid to say something, and when they are truly behind the products.

I feel strongly that an elitist attitude towards any of the arts can be a huge factor in turning people OFF -- so I think it is important to keep an open mind. Compared with the standard plastic clear synth heads found on doumbeks, remo heads are far superior (though of course not real fish) and I don't think your point holds up regarding their conga heads, those things sound great eh?


EDIT: P.S. Thanks for the video links, Ill check those out! :)
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By e2c
I'll say it again - their dumbeks are pretty bad. I get mine from an Iraqi immigrant who makes beautiful darbukas (another name for them), frame drums, Arabic tambourines and more. He taught Arabic music at a local conservatory for a while, and spends a lot of time designing, casting and building his darbukas (and his other drums, too).

He doesn't have his own site, but here's his section on the Wisconsin Folk Arts site:


You'll be very hard-pressed to find this kind of craftsmanship elsewhere in the US. The kinds of imported drums you've got don't even come close to Abdulhamid's - and (an incentive!) his prices are very reasonable. He's a super-nice guy and does what he does for love, not money.

As for Remo djembes, I see that I did misunderstand. Still, I just don't like them - I think that they really are another kind of instrument entirely, with a somewhat different playing technique. They're goblet drums, but I think that's where the similarity to good W. African drums begins and ends.

I do know of some musicians in Brazil who find Remo djembes to be ideal for the kind of music that they play (Bahian-style samba and related "afro" styles). These guys need relatively lightweight shells plus the resistance to humidity that comes with Remos, for outdoor performance especially. I've heard them on recordings and in that context they sound good, though I think the players have tweaked them quite a bit (with duct tape, etc.). to get the sound they want and kill the ringiness.

I guess my feeling about it all is that nothing can compare to a well-crafted drum made out of natural materials... goatskin, fishskin and cowhide matched to wood (or clay) bodies gives such a wide - and subtle - array of sounds. The problem with Remo starts (IMO) with the material they use for the shells. There's just no way that a compound of sawdust and adhesives will ever have the tonal qualities of a good piece of wood.

No offense meant, zack - if the Paulo Mattiolli series works for you, that's great. I think there are many situations where Remos can be effective. Trad. W. African drum and dance isn't (IMO) one of them.
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By the kid
Yea the congas do sound good alright(and psycedelic design). Yea those guys are very good players too on the darabukas/arabian drums etc. Yea i'd be open minded to a degree. I know Remo exsits and dont mind but i don't really want to watch their marketing comercials. Really i just think that theres mountains of true African drumming/culture on the net and we can be focusing on that.
By zackaa05
I definitely hear what you guys are saying, and where the rubs are. -- thanks for the vids, I'm a big fan of David K. as well, I actually got turned on to Djembe AFTER becoming obsessed with frame drums :-)

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By e2c
zack - check part 2 of David K's instructional with Hatem Ammous for more... Ammous is the star of the show, and goes on to demonstrate some techniques that were never seen in the West (or the US and Canada, anyway) until David videoed [sp?] them. Also re. H. Ammous - the darbuka he plays in the vid has an aluminum shell and plastic head, but it sounds SO much better than those Remo drums. There's just no comparison! (i don't like the aluminum/plastic drums myself, but I would *love* to have one that's exactly like the one Ammous is playing...)

Najib B's playing is just out of this world - his style is truly unique, and his technique is so fluid. Leaves me gasping for air, wondering if I know anything at all about darbuka. (Compared to him, I really don't!)

I agree with bubudi on the cultural appropriation thing as well. When you figure that Remo (world's largest manufacturer of drumheads) has a huge ready-made market in the US public school system (all levels), that aspect of things becomes far clearer. it's about $$$$. (IMO, at least.) Also true of Toca, LP, Meinl and other companies that have been trying to get a slice of the "world percussion" market by creating and selling their own inferior versions of all sorts of "ethnic" drums. The quality problem is glaringly obvious, to me, at least. (As is the wholesale theft of names - whether we're talking about Middle Eastern, African, South and East Asian - even "Latin" - percussion.)